Atticus Grinch was a Jail Blazer.
Tonight the NBA returns to soothe my ailing soul but before it does I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my favorite basketball tale.
It was the summer of 2004 and I was in Door County, WI with my usual partner in crime, Big Art. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Door County, it is a cess-pool of egregiously over-priced ceramics, tasteless Midwestern opulence, the Croc capital of the world, pristine parks, and more shoreline than Latrell Sprewell would know what to do with.
Big Art and I found ourselves on family vacation with more time on our hands than usual, which was remarkable considering that we were two 13 year old boys who’d just discovered pot and were used to having a lot time on our hands. Big Art and I weren’t exactly the Door County types, neither of us had parents with boats or lakeside property, nor did we have any proclivity towards tight-assed seersucker shorts or Dave Matthews. We liked Juvenile and ounces of seed-filled dirt weed.
Big Art and I had little interest in bike rides, tanning, or really anything besides smoking nug and drumming up bullshit. As such, we embarked on an aimless hike through town one day looking for some shit to do. Weed would be covertly smoked behind thick shrubbery and girls would be ogled from afar—a divine and plausible excuse would always arise before we could approach one of them.
After hours of purposeless wandering we came across a black Cadillac Escalade, which was a big deal as the adage of that time was that if one was scared they should get the new Escalade, the long motherfucker with the headliner suede.
The Escalade had an NBA vanity plate and was parked outside some shop that looked like it’d been plucked from the set of Willow. We entered the store hoping to find one our favorite ballers of that era or at the very least Keith Van Horn. Big Art was wearing a Portland Trail Blazers Rasheed Wallace jersey and I a mop of unwashed hair and a Bob Marley tee that was 4 sizes too large. Standing at the register was an old gremlin, a young Door County lookin-ass woman and a Lurch looking motherfucker. Big Art and I couldn’t quite make out who he was as his head was turned but it was scraping the ceiling and he had on Crocs. It was definitely a baller.
Big Art and I feigned as if we were shopping but quickly realized we were in a boutique jewelry store and that even the most modestly over-priced piece would’ve cost more than that Volcano vaporizer we were so desperate to save for. The weed-induced anxiety was palpable but Big Art calmed my nerves with a look and we proceeded.
We weaved through rows of diamonds to get a better look at the baller. The shop owner had noticed us but was so swept up in the prospect of what appeared to be a large sale that she neglected to kick us out with quickness that we’d deserved. After some stoned maneuvering we made it next to the big lengthy fuck and shortly thereafter realized who he was. “Yo, Joel Przybilla!” Big Art shouted at him.
It was indeed Joel Przybilla, the Vanilla Gorilla, a player so anonymous and insecure that he’d adorned his Escalade with an NBA vanity plate. It all made sense. Przybilla had played a few forgettable seasons with our Milwaukee Fucks; as such, Big Art and I were quite familiar with his game, which mostly consisted of pretending to be an enforcer and being great at misjudging the trajectory of rebounds. Przybilla looked at us astonished and immediately corralled us off into the corner of the store to talk. At first Big Art and I thought that he thought we were fans and that he would quietly sign some autographs and get on with his day of diamond purchasing. But what unfurled was unexpected and hilarious and we didn’t want his scrub ass autograph.
“Look guys, I’m not sure who this Przybilla guy is but it’s not me,” Przybilla said straight-faced and having pronounced his stupid name perfectly. Big Art and I were struck by his audacity to deny the little celebrity he so obviously pined for. “Look Przybilla, we know you’re Przybilla, don’t try to pull some Przybilla shit on us, we’re here to play you Przybilla!” Big Art roared. Previous to this Big Art and I had not discussed challenging whatever baller was in this store, but in that moment of brilliant improvisation, I was in complete agreement, we were gonna ball against Przybilla and we were gonna kick his ass.
“Look you little fuckers,” he said with a hushed voice “I’m not Joel Przybilla. You need to leave before I call the cops.” Przybilla was testy and I was no longer anxious. “We never said your first name you big dumb fuck, you just admitted who you are and anyways no one is dumb enough to think that you’re anything but a basketball player. We saw your NBA license plate outside you idiot!” I was higher than giraffe ass and feeling myself.
Then, just as Przybilla looked like he was going to punch some stoned vacationing minors, his wife yelled, “Joel? What’re you doing over there?” Big Art and I looked at him, our expressions conveying our belief that because we’d caught him in a lie he was obligated to play us due to some universal basketball law.
Przybilla gestured for us to leave and put a fake smile on for his wife as he walked backed over to her. By this point the shop gremlin had sniffed out a semblance of what was going on. She shot us a dark and disturbing look that was infinitely more terrifying than anything Przybilla seemed capable of. Quickly Big Art and I scurried out of the store and into the parking lot.
There we waited for Przybilla, undeterred and patient. Przybilla was clearly stalling inside as the sun was beginning to drift down in the sky, but then finally he appeared. His wife greeted us and was clearly unaware of what had transpired inside. “Hi Mrs. Przybilla may we speak with Joel for a moment?,” Big Art said like a naïve child. Przybilla was irate at this point but still unwilling to expose his frustration in front of his wife. “Of course boys, are you fans?,” she asked from halfway in the car. “Oh, big fans,” Big Art said again rubbing it in Przybilla’s face. The door shut and Przybilla’s demeanor flipped, “Look, I’m not playing you kids in basketball, alright?” Big Art and I look at each other, smiled and in unison said, “You’re afraid you’re gonna lose.”
As much as I wish this story ended with Big Art and I making a fool of Joel Przybilla on a basketball court, it doesn’t. Ultimately, Przybilla was a scared-ass punk and drove away as we considered throwing rocks at his Escalade.
Przybilla went on to have a forgettable and mediocre career, while Big Art and I continued to do spectacular things on the daily. This coming week would’ve been Big Art’s 27th birthday but tragically he passed away two years ago. So in honor of him and his basketball legacy I thought it’d be nice to share the story and to finally dunk on Przybilla like I know Big Art would’ve that day had Przybilla not been too scared to play us.
Baptism of the Week
Big Art was a gorilla of a human; even at the age of 13 he had more chest hair than Andre Drummond and the biceps of a young Schwarzenegger. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Big Art would’ve ruptured Przybilla’s face, elbowed him in the gut no less than 15 times, and that Przybilla’s wife would’ve left him for Big Art that day had we played.
Since Big Art is no longer here to Baptize Przybilla I decided to take it upon myself to cull together three of the best (and one of my own) Baptisms on Przybilla’s big dumb ass in honor of my late friend’s born day.
Baron Davis on Przybilla:
Amar’e on Przybilla:
Millsap on Przybilla:
This atrocity of a tattoo looks like it was done in a world where And-1 Mixtapes got into the private prison business and Przybilla was on death row. BAM!